God Gives Prayer to Him Who Prays: Selected Sayings of St. Hilarion of Optina

The following teachings of St. Hilarion of Optina were taken from Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina, Holy Trinity Publications, 2005:

    

Anger

If you feel that you cannot control your anger, remain silent, and for the time being, simply say nothing, until, through continuous prayer and self-reproach, your heart has become calm.

Caution in speech

During conversation with others it is no hindrance to be cautious in speech, and at the same time one can retain the Jesus Prayer in the mind.

Relations with neighbors

One must strive to have a good opinion of everyone. Only God is the Knower of hearts. We cannot infallibly judge people.

Repentance

In case of a fall of some kind in deed, word, or thought, you should immediately repent and, acknowledging your infirmity, humble yourself and force yourself to see your sins, but not your corrections. From exam­ining his sins, a person comes to humility and acquires a heart that is bro­ken and humble, which God does not despise.

Prayer

We must not attribute miracle-working power to our prayer; we must not think that what we ask of the Lord is always fulfilled. This thought comes from pride and leads to deception.

God does not demand undistracted prayer from beginners. It is acquired with much time and labor, as the writings of the holy fathers say: "God grants prayer to those who pray...”

Thoughts

When having thoughts of self-praise, we must look at our sins and remember that without the help of God we can do nothing good and ben­eficial, we have only sins and infirmities.

Praise

Pay no attention to praise and fear it; remember what one of the holy fathers says: "If someone praises you, expect reproaches from him too."

Reconciliation

If you reconcile your own heart towards someone who is angry at you, the Lord will tell his heart to reconcile with you.

Self-will

By desiring to live or die in this place, but not that one, we establish our own will, we desire to fulfill our own desires, which we must not do. Do not pray to the Lord for any such thing, but pray that His holy will may be fulfilled in us.

Sorrows

Let us endure for a little while and we will receive eternal blessed­ness. Let us consign to oblivion all earthly pleasures and joys—they are not for us. It has been said: Where our treasure is, there our heart will be (cf. Luke 12:34), and our treasure is in heaven; therefore let us strive with all our heart for the heavenly Fatherland. There all our sorrows will be turned to joy; abuse and disparagement—to glory; sorrows, tears and sighs—to consolation; sicknesses and toil—to everlasting peace without pain.

When sorrow comes to us, we must await consolations, but after the consolation, we must again await sorrows.

We cannot live in such a way that no one grieves or offends us, for the Apostle Luke writes: we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22), and bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). Let us therefore ask that we may bear sorrows with self- reproach and humility and not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good, and with the Prophet say: With them that hate peace I was peace­able (Ps. 119:6).

You are bored because you think too much about yourself and you censure those who are weak.

Spiritual welfare

In the pure writings of the Holy Fathers, we see that he who desires to cleanse his heart of the passions must call on the Lord for help—this is so. We cannot say the Jesus Prayer without our thoughts being plundered. With beginners, God does not demand undistract­ed prayer: it is acquired with much time and labor. As the writings of the Holy Fathers say: "God gives prayer to him who prays,” thus we must neverthe­less continue to pray, orally, and with the mind.

See also
Vision of the True Light: Selected Sayings of St. Macarius of Optina Vision of the True Light: Selected Sayings of St. Macarius of Optina
St. Macarius of Optina
Vision of the True Light: Selected Sayings of St. Macarius of Optina Vision of the True Light: Selected Sayings of St. Macarius of Optina
St. Macarius of Optina
If we truly labor to cleanse our hearts from the passions, then according to the amount that we have purified ourselves, Divine Grace will open our eyes spiritually to the vision of the true Light; for as it is written, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matt. 5:8). This is achieved only through humility, for it is in humility that divine mysteries are revealed.
The Joy of Remembering God: Selected Sayings of St. Anthony of Optina The Joy of Remembering God: Selected Sayings of St. Anthony of Optina
St. Anthony of Optina
The Joy of Remembering God: Selected Sayings of St. Anthony of Optina The Joy of Remembering God: Selected Sayings of St. Anthony of Optina
St. Anthony of Optina
"Do not be confused because dark thoughts often trouble you, for dark thoughts, like autumn clouds, come one after another and darken everything. But then they pass and the sky remains clear and pleasant. And so our thoughts wander, they wander around the wide world, but the mind remains planted in its place, and then it is quiet, and the soul becomes joyful. But our mind, from wandering here and there, becomes accustomed to the brief but often repeated prayer of Jesus, which may God grant you the habit of saying, and then your days will be bright."
Life is Blessedness! Selected sayings of St. Barsanuphius of Optina Life is Blessedness! Selected sayings of St. Barsanuphius of Optina
St. Barsanuphius of Optina
Life is Blessedness! Selected sayings of St. Barsanuphius of Optina Life is Blessedness! Selected sayings of St. Barsanuphius of Optina
St. Barsanuphius of Optina
Life becomes blessedness for us when we learn to fulfill Christ’s commandments and to love Christ. Then it will be a joy to live, a joy to endure the afflictions that come upon us, while before us will glow the ineffable light of the Sun of Righteousness—the Lord. All the Gospel commandments begin with the word, “blessed:” blessed are the meek, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the peacemakers … From this it follows, as a truth, that the fulfilling of the commandment offers people the highest happiness.
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